A Day No Pigs Would Die

by Robert Newton Peck

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Does Haven Peck follow all of the rules of the Shaker way in A Day No Pigs Would Die? Like that no believer will own property; none will marry.

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Haven Peck does not follow all the rules of the strict Shaker way, but he is a Godly man and follows "most" of what is written in Shaker Law as he understands it.  Haven Peck cannot read, but tells his son that "our Law has been read to me...and because I could not read, I knew to listen with a full heart".  Although young Robert Peck doesn't "cotton to all those Shaker Laws", Haven Peck himself almost always tries to abide by what he knows of them.

Haven Peck tells Robert that

"We are Plain People...we live the Book of Shaker.  We are not wordly people, and we suffer the less for not paining with worldly wants and wishes" (Chapter 4).

In his household, "frills"  are not allowed, and it is wrong "to take frills for being neighborly".  Haven follows rules in raising his stock, such as the one forbidding that "swine and kine", or pigs and cows, cannot be kept under one roof.  His understanding of these laws is that they go "way back...to...earthy reason", being taken from the very laws of nature. 

Haven Peck never mentions the laws about no believer owning property and none will marry.  I don't know enough about Shaker history to be able to say whether he just doesn't know about these rules, or if the religion had evolved by his times to the point that the more extreme guidelines were no longer practiced.  Haven Peck himself is married and has fathered seven children, and he considers himself "rich" and blessed to have his land to tend, along with the opportunity to "own it outright" in a few years.  He says that his life as he is living it is "the mission they preach on at Meeting", that "every man must face his own mission", and that he is "thankful to be in the picture".

The only incident that I could find where Haven seems to make allowances for deviating even slightly from the strict letter of his understanding of Shaker Law is when he and Robert went camping one time, and a cow wandered into their camp and stayed the night.  In the morning, they "milked a bit of her" so that Robert could have fresh milk for breakfast and Haven could have a spoonful for his coffee.  Haven does not consider that stealing because they only took a little, because had the cow been his, he would have shared its milk with others without hesitation, and because he believes "somehow, the Good Lord don't want to see no man start a cold morning with just black coffee" (Chapter 3).

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